November 01, 2023

Free Press

Free Press

Natalya Antonova is Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper Vieljärven ikkunat, which, translated from Karelian, means Vedlozero Windows. The paper is read by the residents of the village of Vedlozero (population just under 1000) and the villages that surround it. Those residents also write the paper. But neither Natalya nor the authors nor the associate editor (ответсек) receive any pay. The paper survives on “donations” from local residents, and on the enthusiasm of Natalya and the people who distribute it.

Our correspondent traveled to Karelia on the day the summer issue was delivered from the printer and then charted the paper’s full path: from the home of the person doing the layout to readers in tiny villages that require resourcefulness to reach. We spoke with authors and subjects of articles in order to understand why rural Karelians might need a paper today and to understand the sort of challenges that this independent editorial team faces.

The first Editor-in-Chief of Vedlozero Windows was Nadezhda Stafeyeva, a friend of Natalya’s. She began publishing it in 2011. But Nadezhda (Nadya for short) had a weak heart and she passed away in 2021, before a heart transplant could be arranged. But the paper has kept publishing.

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